The Effect of a Statewide Mandatory Prescription Drug Monitoring Program on Opioid Prescribing by Emergency Medicine Providers Across 15 Hospitals in a Single Health System

Published:December 11, 2017DOI:


      • Mandated prescription monitoring reduced opioid prescribing among emergency medicine providers.
      • There was heterogeneity in opioid prescribing across hospitals and by patient diagnosis.
      • Reductions in opioid prescriptions could help curb the opioid epidemic.


      Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) enable registered prescribers to obtain real-time information on patients' prescription history of controlled medications. We sought to describe the effect of a state-mandated PDMP on opioid prescribing by emergency medicine providers. We retrospectively analyzed electronic medical records of 122,732 adult patients discharged with an opioid prescription from 15 emergency departments in a single health system in Pennsylvania from July 2015 to March, 2017. We used an interrupted time series design to evaluate the percentage of patients discharged each month with an opioid prescription before and after state law-mandated PDMP use on August 25, 2016. From August (pre-PDMP) to September, 2016 (post-PDMP), the opioid prescribing rate decreased from 12.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 10.8%-14.1%) to 10.2% (95% CI, 8.8%-11.8%). For each month between September 2016 to March 2017, there was a mean decline of .46% (95% CI, −.38% to −.53%) in the percentage of patients discharged with an opioid prescription. There was heterogeneity in opioid prescribing across hospitals as well as according to patient diagnosis.


      This study examined the effect of a state-mandated PDMP on opioid prescribing among emergency medicine providers from 15 different hospitals in a single health system. Findings support current PDMP mandates in reducing opioid prescriptions, which could curb the prescription opioid epidemic and may ultimately reduce abuse, misuse, and overdose death.

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